ISU’s graduate workers union declines to vote on university’s ‘last, best, and final offer’

Published: Nov. 9, 2023 at 4:15 PM CST
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NORMAL (25News Now) - The graduate workers union at Illinois State University is not voting at this time on what the university says is its “last, best and final offer.”

The announcement comes a month after the union indicated there would be a strike authorization vote for its 450 members.

Union leaders are not saying whether the vote happened, but they said they’re continuing to develop “a strike-ready union and plan to strike if management isn’t willing to bargain fairly” on unresolved issues.

The union said in a news release that the school’s offer does not come close to what is needed to help graduate assistants who get groceries at food pantries, experience housing insecurity and can’t afford going to the doctor.

The union says GAs live in poverty, caused by the university’s meager wages that are 60% below the cost of living in Bloomington-Normal, according to MIT.

ISU’s administration has created a website with its version of how negotiations are proceeding.

ISU said its last, best and final offer on October 27 includes a more than 10% increase to minimum stipends, effective retroactively to the start of the 2023 school year, along with 3.5% increases for all graduate teaching assistants already making more than the new minimum stipend, also retroactive to the start of the school year.

ISU says this offer brings total compensation for graduate teaching assistants significantly above the average of higher education institutions similar to ISU.

The Graduate Workers Union at ISU is part of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73.

The two sides have been negotiating since March of this year.